Networking can mean trading a few pleasantries over appletinis. It also can mean building relationships that last and forging connections that hold fast.

Networking can mean trading a few pleasantries over appletinis. It also can mean building relationships that last and forging connections that hold fast.

Derek Grosso opted for the harder road - transforming an idea hatched with a friend over burgers into one of Columbus' most visible young-professionals groups. As it enters its fourth year, the Columbus Young Professionals Club is helping enrich a city where, Grosso insists, people can be part of something.

"I try to learn a lot from everybody around me," the well-dressed and supremely polite businessman said late last month. "It's not about getting as many business cards as you can. It's about having a network and offering something to it."

What he offers grows by the week.

The CYP hosts more than 150 unique events each year, constantly adapting to meet the needs of more than 7,500 members who hail from across Central Ohio. Among the ranks are bankers and artists, lawyers and community activists, all 45 or younger, who wish to expand cultural, economic and philanthropic opportunities in Columbus.

"I'm a very positive person," he said. "I like to be realistic, but I think that there are a lot of things that can be done."

The club's calendar includes happy-hour mixers, charity events, 12 athletic leagues, networking breakfasts and the Culture Series, a running arts initiative attempting to expose a growing audience to everything from the Dublin Irish Festival to the Wexner Center.

Columbus has a lot to offer. Grosso is one of its finest ambassadors, showing off a city to people who never knew it existed.

"What we try to do is to engage members as people and build those relationships," Grosso added. "There's always opportunity. You always need to be looking for it, and you always need to be going after it."